- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

JAKARTA, Indonesia Indonesia yesterday pledged to press ahead with tough new anti-terror laws and formed an international investigative team to hunt for those responsible for the Bali nightclub bombing.
Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda told reporters the government was working on giving President Megawati Sukarnoputri authority to impose, by decree, a long-stalled anti-terrorism law. There was no indication of when a decree would be made, but Mrs. Megawati would be expected to seek approval from parliamentary leaders before doing so.
Balinese police said they had detained two Indonesian men for further questioning after an initial round of interrogation following Saturday's blast that killed at least 190 persons, most of them foreign tourists. The men are a security guard and the brother of a man whose identification card was found at the bomb scene.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who is visiting Jakarta, said Indonesia and Australia have agreed to form a joint intelligence team in the wake of the blast and have invited other nations to join. Most of the victims were Australian nationals.
Australia, which has posted a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack, has sent more than 40 investigators to Bali to help with the probe.
The United States, Germany, France and Britain have sent smaller teams.
U.S. officials said yesterday they believed the number of Americans killed in the weekend bombing would climb to five or six. Authorities have so far confirmed that two U.S. citizens died and four were injured.
U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce said that in the month before the Bali attack he and other American envoys had discussed with Indonesian officials potential attacks against U.S. targets.
But Mr. Boyce said that the warnings were not specific to Indonesia. They coincided with a temporary closure of embassies in Jakarta and other regional capitals because of terrorist threats during the September 11 anniversary.
Mr. Boyce also said that a man who reportedly attempted to hurl a small bomb at the office of the honorary U.S. consul in Denpasar, Bali, on Saturday had been injured when the device exploded prematurely. The ambassador said it was his understanding that the man was then apprehended, but police spokesmen denied that anyone was detained after that explosion.
Even as the government in Jakarta vowed to fight terrorism more aggressively, Indonesian Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhyono said that Jemaah Islamiyah, an al Qaeda-linked Islamic extremist group identified by Australia and others as a likely suspect in the blasts, does not exist in Indonesia.
And the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiyah denied that the group existed, along with denying that al Qaeda was tied to the attack.
"There is no link between al Qaeda and the bomb blast," Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir told reporters, calling the accusations "the invention of infidels."
Suspicion in the blast has fallen heavily on Jemaah Islamiyah, which has been accused of plotting to attack the U.S. and other Western embassies in Singapore earlier this year. Malaysia and Singapore have arrested scores of people accused of ties to the group.
Yesterday, police in Malaysia arrested five men suspected of belonging to the group. They are not believed to have any involvement in the Bali attack, said Norian Mai, the Malaysian national police chief.


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